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2013 Outstanding Aviator Award

Patty Wagstaff

To Patty Wagstaff the sky represents adventure, freedom and challenge. A six-time member of the US Aerobatic Team, Patty has won the gold, silver and bronze medals in Olympic-level international aerobatic competition and is the first woman to win the title of US National Aerobatic champion and one of the few people to win it three times.

Patty flies one of the most thrilling, low-level aerobatic demonstrations in the world. Flying before millions of people each year, her breathtaking performances give airshow spectators a front-row seat view of the precision and complexity of modern, unlimited hard-core aerobatics. Her smooth aggressive style sets the standard for performers the world over.

Born in the USA, Patty grew up in and around airplanes. Moving to Japan when she was nine years old where her father was a Captain for Japan Air Lines. Her earliest memories include sitting with her father at the controls of his airplanes. At ten years old when her father let her take the controls of his DC-6, her lifelong love affair with airplanes began.

From Japan her travels took her across Southeast Asia, Europe and to Australia where she lived and traveled up the west coast in a small boat. In 1979 she moved to Alaska and moved to a small town in the southwest part of the state, Dillingham, where she worked for the Bristol Bay Native Association. Her job involved traveling to each of the remote villages in the region, areas only accessible by air.

Patty's first experience with bush flying was not a positive one. The first airplane she chartered for her job crashed on their first flight. So Patty decided to learn to fly herself, hiring friend and later husband, Bob, to travel with her in his Cessna 185 floatplane. Since then she earned her Commercial, Instrument, Seaplane and Commercial Helicopter Ratings. She is a Flight and Instrument Instructor and is rated and qualified to fly many airplanes, from World War II fighters to jets. Patty's sister, Toni, is also a pilot and a Captain for Continental Airlines..

Though she had never seen aerobatics, a lifelong curiosity led her to attend her first Airshow in British Columbia in 1983, where she saw aerobatic pilots perform and promised herself "I can do that!" By 1985, five years after gaining her pilot's license, she earned a spot on the US Aerobatic Team.

Patty's skill is based on years of training and experience. She is a six-time recipient of the "First Lady of Aerobatics" Betty Skelton Award. In July 2004, Patty was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and was the recipient of the National Air and Space Museum's Award for Current Achievement in 1994. Having received many awards for her flying, she is particularly proud of receiving the Airshow industry's most prestigious award, the "Sword of Excellence", and the "Bill Barber Award for Showmanship". Recently she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Air Force Association, was inducted into the EAA/IAC Hall of Fame and in 2005 received the NAA/99's Katherine Wright Award.

Continuing a life of experience and adventure, when she’s not flying you can find her at the barn riding her Selle Francais show jumper, Ivgeni de Hogue.  Patty's other interests include her Jack Russell Terriers and her parrot Buddha; riding her motorcycle and bicycle, reading, writing articles for aviation magazines and practicing yoga.

Achievements

  • 2007 Inductee, International Aerospace Hall of Fame
  • 2006 Inductee, Air Show Hall of Fame
  • 2006 Aviation Week & Space Technology Laureate, Philip J. Klass Award for Lifetime Achievement
  • 2005 Recipient, Air Force Association Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2005 Inductee, International Aerobatic Club Hall of Fame
  • 2005 Katherine Wright Award
  • 2002 Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Award
  • 1998 Bill Barber Award for Showmanship
  • 1997 Recipient, NAA Paul Tissiander Diploma
  • 1997 Inductee, Women in Aviation International Hall of Fame
  • 1997 Inductee, Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame
  • 1996 Recipient, Charlie Hillard Trophy
  • 1996 GAN & Flyers Readers Choice Award, Favorite Female Performer
  • 1996 Top Scoring US Pilot at World Aerobatic Championships
  • 1985-1996 Member, U.S. Aerobatic Team
  • 1995 Recipient, ICAS Sword of Excellence Award
  • 1988-1994 Winner Betty Skelton "First Lady of Aerobatics" Trophy
  • 1994 National Air and Space Museum Award for Current Achievement
  • 1994 NAA Certificate of Honor
  • 1993 International Aerobatic Club Champion
  • Us National Aerobatic Champion
    • 1991, 1992, 1993 US National Aerobatic Championships
  • 1990/1992/1994 Top US Medal Winner, World Aerobatic Championships
  • 1991 Voted Western Flyer Reader's Choice Favorite Airshow Performer
  • 1987 Rolly Cole Memorial Award for Contributions to Sport Aerobatics